Winter Mountain Overtrousers
We've put seven pairs of winter mountaineering shell trousers through their paces all season. Here's how they compare...
Unfortunately, the test pair arrived just after the last Finnish ice falls had collapsed under the onslaught of the spring sunshine so, lacking high mountains, I haven't had chance to test them in gnarly weather. Hence the following comments are based only on wearing them for cragging and should be considered a “first impressions” type of review. I would though, happily wear them for ice climbing and come next winter, will do so.
a very capable pair of mountain trousers
The Scree pant is made of Marmot's own 4-way stretch softshell material. Marmot class their softshells into three levels, M1 being the most weather resistant but least breathable and M3 being the most breathable and least weather resistant. The Scree is classed as M3 and as you would expect, they seem to be completely breathable. I wore them rock climbing on a windy but sunny spring day and they didn't feel too hot at all when sheltered and in the sun at the base of the cliff, but the material was windproof when at the top cliff belaying in a gale. Just as importantly, the material is very stretchy in all directions so the Scree pants give total freedom of movement. I tried top-roping a 7a arête whilst wearing them (with not much success it should be added) and toe or heel hooking around the arête with your foot at chest height didn't cause the pants any problem at all.
The finishing on the trousers is superb – seams are neatly bound, including some natty red piping around the inside waist. The zips on the pockets all go neatly into 'zip garages', and the ankle has a draw cord to snug it in as well as an ankle zip. I like the draw cord as it means you don't need to role up the trouser leg whilst rock climbing tobe able to see your feet properly, as with many other trousers. It would also hold the trouser leg over your ice climbing boot as long as you weren't going to be wading a long way through deep, heavy snow.
I now find I really miss a thigh pocket on any trousers that don't have one, but the Scree pants do and it is an excellent place to stash a copy of the topo or some energy gels. Perhaps the only thing I would ask for more of is belt loops – although I have exactly the same gripe about the two other pairs of softshell trousers I have from other manufacturers. Why are they so half-hearted about this? When doing anything active, I find a belt a real necessity. I've actually sewn more loops onto other outdoor trousers after getting so annoyed with them slipping out from below the belt due to lack of loops.
The fit is quite generous; I went for large thinking I would need it for my thighs and waist, if not for my inside leg but actually the pants are quite baggy on me and I need a belt. Marmot may be flattering us because I think you can take an inch or two off your real waist size when looking at their size chart. However the slightly loose fit means that they will go easily over long underwear for winter usage. The material is thicker than some other types of softshell trouser meaning extra warmth and also it seems rather strong – whilst climbing I bashed my knee under the trousers hard enough to draw blood, but no mark on the material itself.
Don't expect miracles – they do most things well, but nothing perfectly. The non-membrane softshell materials (which include most softshell trousers) are not completely windproof and from past experience with similar models, this is noticeable on cold days when ice climbing at about –10 or colder. Also they are quick drying and snow proof but not waterproof, therefore in heavy precipitation you will still need waterproof over-trousers.
Overall, the Scree Pants seems like a very capable pair of mountain trousers. I will update this review with comments on their warmth later in the year once I have had chance to use them in the high mountains or for ice climbing.
Weight: 454 grams
The Scree is a light-weight, versatile softshell pant that excels for everything from spring ski tours to summer alpine climbs.
Material: Quartz 6.3 oz 90% Polyester 10% Elastane Stretch Softshell